The Sad Reason Some Jokes In Roadrunner Had To Be Cut

"Roadrunner," the much-anticipated documentary about the life of the late Anthony Bourdain hits theaters July 16. Directed by Morgan Neville, "Roadrunner" was culled from a massive pool of 60 hours of unreleased footage and includes Bourdain's voice in a haunting tribute (via Grub Street). Although the immediate impetus for the film would appear to be Bourdain's untimely passing on June 8, 2018, "Roadrunner" is by no means intended as a eulogy let alone a dirge for the beloved chef, television personality, and general force of nature. 

Rather, Neville sought to "get people to start to see [Bourdain] as a person again," as opposed to someone whose 61 years on Earth were somehow destined to end in tragedy — because that is not who Anthony Bourdain was.

That being said, Bourdain was a man who had made a point of contemplating the inevitability of death. "It is considered useful and enlightening and therapeutic to think about death for a few minutes a day," he once said, according to Grub Street. It is these words with which Neville chooses to begin his telling of the story of his main character, a man who lived his life richly and joyously even as he maintained a persistent, if not ironic, awareness of its impermanence. 

Nevertheless, in striving to keep the focus of the documentary on the personality's life, Neville felt compelled to limit the film's talk of death. And perhaps, not surprisingly, that meant leaving a great number of jokes Bourdain had made about that very topic on the cutting room floor.

The film chooses to focus instead on Bourdain's life

In culling hours and hours of raw footage into "Roadrunner," a documentary celebrating Anthony Bourdain's colorful albeit sometimes tortured life — and at the same time, staying true to Bourdain's outsized spirit and vitality — filmmaker Morgan Neville was challenged with capturing the iconic personality's  irreverence about life's impermanence — but without descending into the maudlin. 

"We had a montage of about 15 suicide jokes," Neville told Grub Street, referring to the quips Bourdain frequently made, but that montage was ultimately cut from the final film. Because, although it would not be a stretch to view Anthony Bourdain as a "tortured genius" whose end was somehow preordained, Neville did not wish to portray his passing as anything close to an inevitability. 

In fact, for most of the first two-thirds of the film (with the notable exception of the beginning words, which are in Bourdain's voice and address the importance of acknowledging death's role in life), it's simply "Bourdain being Bourdain," Neville told Grub Street — just the way we all remember seeing him.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.